NASA space The Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting earth. Photo: NASA Goddard Photo and Video. Some rights reserved
A group of students from the University of Staffordshire are developing an iPad app dedicated to news about space and the space industry.

The Spaced app will feature news from NASA, the European Space Agency, the UK Space Agency and more outlets, and video and data updates. The team are awaiting approval of the application by Apple and told Journalism.co.uk that apps developed by major news organisations in the UK have provided inspiration.

"Our goal from the start was to produce an app for the iPad bringing together the best part of the new space era in a more mainstream fashion that is easily accessible to a larger audience. The initial idea for Spaced came after searching through the iTunes App Store for apps of that nature.

"The first we came across was of course NASA's own app, after a few minutes of use it was clear to see this a straight port of NASA’s website, rather than extracting the important/popular features of the NASA site and shaping them into a well thought out, touch interface, they tried to cram the entire website into the app," team member and film student Steven Waterfall told Journalism.co.uk.

"After a deeper search into the app store we came across a few other apps which have similar flaws of just filtering information in a lacklustre style often simply displaying the original website which rather defeats the purpose. We immediately knew we could design and make an app that fixed all the pitfalls of the other apps. For inspiration we looked into the large publishing magazines and news outlets that have developed apps for their readers, notably the Financial Times, Telegraph and the BBC."

The app is planned to launch at 59p, but the team hopes to introduce advertising in future versions of the application to make it free to download. The app has developed outside of any course project by the students, who were keen to break into the news app rather than news site market.

"The web market is already saturated with many large websites offering the latest space news and media. It would be hard for us to break into this market and promote our website to make it successful," he said.

"The app market on the other hand has only a handful of apps in this domain, many of which only offer very basic functionality in comparison to Spaced, or simply do not have the features Spaced provides users with. The iTunes App Store is a perfect way for people to easily find our app and helps us market the app towards a specific audience. There are over 120 million iOS devices and all we have to do is submit the app to Apple and we have the potential for millions of people to discover Spaced," he said.

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